Five weeks ago, Crowley junior running back Ty’Von Griffin was still a shell of himself, trying to rediscover his identity again on the football field.
The explosive first step through the line was gone, the will to bowl over a defender didn’t exist and the burst to gain separation had vanished.
It wasn’t the same Griffin, who a year before gained 1,103 yards and scored 13 touchdowns but was still psychologically feeling his way back from a bruised knee sustained in the second week of the season.
Crowley’s coaching staff slowed Griffin’s return, sitting him for the equivalent of 1½ games, giving him minimal work in District 4-4A blowout wins over Beau Chene and Opelousas.
Then came a vital road game Oct. 10 against Washington-Marion that required Crowley’s very best. And for the first half, the Gents, who trailed, were still waiting on Griffin’s typical impact.
When Griffin opted to remove his knee brace at halftime, he also removed the fear that had effectively deterred his play since the season opener, unlocking the key to a 29-carry, 151-yard effort and game-winning touchdown in a 22-21 win.
“I just had to be able to trust myself,” Griffin said. “Once I started running, everything started getting better. I decided to start going hard.”
Griffin hasn’t been stopped since.
With a 175-yard effort to his credit in a loss to league champion LaGrange, Griffin has exploded over the past two weeks in victories over Rayne and Eunice that solidified Crowley’s runners-up position in the district.
Griffin encore was a 39-carry, 288-yard effort with five touchdowns against Rayne two weeks ago and a career-high 304 yards on 34 attempts and six TDs in last week’s 41-21 win over Eunice.
“At first, I felt like I was dreaming,” Griffin said. “I had to remind myself that I actually did it. I had to keep watching film to make sure it was me doing that.”
Much to the delight of third-year Crowley coach Josh Fontenot, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Griffin is operating at the type of level that makes the Gents (7-2) a threat to make another deep run in the Class 4A state playoffs after a quarterfinal appearance last year.
“Now his confidence his back,” Fontenot said. “He’s feeling good physically and bought into the fact that if you run hard the whole game, they’re going to get tired of tackling him.”
Griffin, who ranks 12th among Louisiana’s rushing leaders with 205 carries for 1,421 yards and 22 TDs — an average of 177 yards per game and 6.9 yards per carry. He’s also caught eight passes for 87 yards and returned a kickoff 87 yards for a TD.
“I just thank my O-line,” Griffin said. “Those plays wouldn’t be there without them. I’m just trying to do this for my team. I’m not selfish. I’m here for my team first.”
Fontenot said the misconception in Griffin’s consecutive monster outings was that they weren’t necessarily by design. With a multiple offense, the Gents are just as comfortable in four wide receiver sets as they are with Griffin following 245-pound fullback Jardell Delco.
Instead of following the intended game plan of throwing the ball, Fontenot found himself calling Griffin’s number to the tune of 73 times for 592 yards and 11 touchdowns the past two games.
“He just played great,” Fontenot said. “He’s learning how to be a running back and not just run.”
Griffin said after his sophomore season in which he averaged 19 carries and 91 yards per game, he dropped some weight to improve his quickness and was more diligent in the weight room to withstand a heavy work load with an eye on gaining 2,000 yards this year.
“I just go out and play, and whatever opportunity God gives me, I’ll take it,” Griffin said. “I just want to see us be successful and make it as far as we can for our seniors. I’m continuing to work to get better as the season closes out and get ready for the playoffs.”